Wednesday 19th October 2016. Almost three weeks after my wedding day. I was sitting in the doctor’s surgery listening to the chat in the waiting area. I was laughing at the jokes being made and complaining in the right places about the weather and the time it was taking. Waiting rooms are awkward places. I don’t like them at the best of times. It was worse on that day though. What I really wanted to do was get up, walk out the door and be out of there. But I couldn’t. The reason I was there was a rash on my arm. My very new wife insisted I see the doctor for it. When my name was called I got up, and headed down the corridor to the doctors surgery. I glanced at the front door on my way by and wished I was going out it. I knew though if I went home now, I couldn’t bluff Laura off when I got there.
I showed the doctor my arm. Psoriasis was the diagnosis. I knew it was psoriasis. I’d seen it before. A man I worked with was covered with it. It appeared on my elbow shortly after coming home from a few days in Donegal after the wedding. He smiled at me and said a cream should sort it out. If the one he prescribed didn’t work he’d give me another one. He set about printing the prescription. My head was pounding and I could feel the sweat running down my back. It felt surreal. Like it wasn’t me sitting there. It’s a hard feeling to explain now – I was there but I wasn’t there. He reached me the prescription. Appointment over. He expected me to get up, say my thanks and go. I wanted to. I wanted to take the prescription and run out the door. But I knew I’d have to face Laura when I got home. She wouldn’t be angry. She wouldn’t shout. She wouldn’t say I’d wasted my time. She’d just make me come back.
‘What would be causing the psoriasis I asked?’ he shrugged,
‘It could be any number of things’, he said. But he was looking at me closer now.
‘Could it be stress, or something? Something like that?’ I asked looking at my shoes. They were my fred perry white canvas shoes. I remember distinctly. Good shoes. At least id have good shoes on when he told me what was coming
‘It could be. Are you stressed Adam?’
I looked up at him and then away again. I’d lectured myself while I was getting ready at the house. When I was brushing my teeth. On the way down in the car. Sitting in the waiting room. Whatever you do, don’t do this Adam. And now it happened. I looked at the fred perrys again, and I started to cry.
I don’t know when depression started to affect me. I can’t pin it to a particular time. 2016 had built like a pressure cooker inside me. Day after day, week after week, month after month. Looking back now there seems a difference to how I thought I was acting and how my family knew I was acting. In some ways 2016 was a brilliant year – getting engaged, Euro 2016 in France, my stag do. And in others, which I’ll come to later when, I wasn’t fine. I was unfine in fact. Unless you’d asked me of course. In 2016 I told Laura and my mum that I was fine, quite a few times.
So why am I telling you all this you may well wonder. Well, the reason I’m telling you today is it’s the start of Mental Health awareness week 2019. And so every day this week I’m going to write about my experience of depression. The main reason I’m doing this, in fact, is for my son Abel. During Laura’s pregnancy and even before she got pregnant, I worried about passing my depressive ‘gene’ onto any potential child we may have. But after beating myself up for a while I realised if I worried about all the bad things I could pass down I’d never want to have children – I’d be too afraid. And I did want children. Very much. So I had to take the chance of passing down bad with good. And if unfortunately in 30 years Abel suffers from depression the best thing I can do for him is make it easier for him to get help. And the more we talk about depression, the smaller the stigma of it will be in the years to come. It’s never going to be easy. But I just want to make it easier.
And on a smaller more short term scale, if just one person reads this post today and realises that something is not right in their life and are able to take the first step of getting help, then this blog will be worth it. Or if someone reads this post and realises someone close to them is ‘unfine’ and makes the first step in reaching out to them and getting them help, then this blog will be worth it.
And finally, I’m writing about my depression because I’m tired of covering up. Up until now, only a very small handful of people know. I’m sick of hiding it from people close to me. Every day I wake up I wonder how I’m going to be today. Some mornings I know before I throw my feet out of the bed. But I always seem to be on the back foot. Waiting for what depression throws at me. I feel I can’t fight back until I write this blog. Everyone may know I’ve depression, but I can stand up to it without worrying whose watching.